WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION
Major League Baseball Properties Inc. v. James Lee
Case No. D2007-0896
1. The Parties
The Complainant is Major League Baseball Properties Inc. of New York, New York, United States of America, represented by Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, PC, United States of America.
The Respondent is James Lee of Seoul, Republic of Korea.
2. The Domain Name and Registrar
The disputed domain name <mlbtv.com> is registered with Korea Information Certificate Authority Inc. d/b/a DomainCa.com.
3. Procedural History
The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on June 18, 2007. On June 20, 2007, the Center transmitted by email to Korea Information Certificate Authority Inc. d/b/a DomainCa.com a request for registrar verification in connection with the domain name at issue. On June 21, 2007, Korea Information Certificate Authority Inc. d/b/a DomainCa.com transmitted by email to the Center its verification response confirming that the Respondent is listed as the registrant and providing the contact details. The Center verified that the Complaint satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy”), the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Rules”), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Supplemental Rules”).
In accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2(a) and 4(a), the Center formally notified the Respondent of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on July 9, 2007. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5(a), the due date for Response was July 29, 2007. The Respondent did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondent’s default on July 31, 2007.
The Center appointed Professor Ilhyung Lee as the sole panelist in this matter on August 6, 2007. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted. The Panel has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, as required by the Center to ensure compliance with the Rules, paragraph 7.
As discussed herein, the Panel determines that the language of the proceeding will be English.
4. Factual Background
The Complainant is the corporation engaged in the business of providing entertainment and information services related to Major League Baseball, the premier professional baseball league. Based in North America, the league’s operations, teams, and players have a worldwide fan following. A number of years before the Respondent registered the dispute domain name, the Complainant used and received multiple U.S. registrations for the mark, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, in connection with a broad range of services and products. In addition, the Complainant began using the MLB mark in 1996 for “baseball games, competitions and exhibitions rendered live, through broadcast media including television and radio and via a global computer network or a commercial on-line service.” The Complainant filed its application for registration of MLB on September 13, 2000, and received registration on July 19, 2005. The Complainant also filed an application for the mark, MLB.COM, on November 20, 2000 (for the same description of services as MLB), with a registration date of January 6, 2004.
The Complainant also has registration of the MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL and MLB marks in the Republic of Korea, where the Respondent is located. Two of the marks comprising of MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL were registered in Korea in July 2002. The application date of the MLB mark there is August 6, 2001, with a registration date of February 7, 2003.
The Complainant registered the domain name <mlb.com> on November 1, 1994, and <mlb.tv> on October 12, 2000. The website for the former domain name is the official site of Major League Baseball, is viewable in multiple languages, and is widely visited worldwide. The website for the latter provides an online video subscription service that allows subscribers to view re-transmissions of Major League Baseball game telecasts.
The Respondent registered the disputed domain name <mlbtv.com> on August 24, 2002.
5. Parties’ Contentions
The Complainant argues that: the Respondent’s domain name is identical or confusingly similar with marks in which the Complainant has rights; the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and the domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith.
The Respondent did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.
Under the Rules, paragraphs 5(e), 14(a), 14(b), the Panel may decide the dispute based on the Complaint, and draw appropriate inferences from the Respondent’s default.
6. Discussion and Findings
Initially, the Panel must address the language of the proceeding. Paragraph 11(a) of the Rules provides that the language of the administrative proceeding shall be the language of the Registration Agreement, unless otherwise agreed by the parties. The language of the Registration Agreement here is Korean. The same provision of the Rules, however, also states that the determination of the language of the proceeding is “subject to the authority of the Panel . . ., having regard to the circumstances of the administrative proceeding.” Here, the Respondent has declined to participate in the proceeding, even after service of the Complaint translated into Korean. In light of all circumstances, the Panel determines that English is the language of the proceeding.
A. Identical or Confusingly Similar
The disputed domain name <mlbtv.com> is confusingly similar with MLB and MLB.COM, marks in which the Complainant has rights. The Complainant has satisfied the first element.
B. Rights or Legitimate Interests
Under paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, the Respondent may demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in the domain name by providing evidence of: (i) the Respondent’s use of the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or (ii) the Respondent being commonly known by the domain name; or (iii) the Respondent making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name. There is no evidence in the record to support any of these possibilities. Importantly, paragraph 4(c) is not an exhaustive list. Nevertheless, the Panel is unable to find any circumstances that would demonstrate the Respondent’s rights or legitimate interests in <mlbtv.com>. The Panel determines that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name.
C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith
Paragraph 4(b) of the Policy states that bad faith in the registration and use of a domain name is shown when the Respondent, by using the domain name, has “intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to [the Respondent’s] website . . ., by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement” of the Respondent’s website or of products on the website.
In the present case, the Respondent has incorporated into its domain name widely-known marks that have been used for services and goods relating to a professional baseball league with worldwide popularity. Internet users who go to the website of the disputed domain name arrive at a site that is not associated with Major League Baseball and that also prominently displays links entitled “Baseball Tickets” and “Sports Wear.” The Complainant has been using its marks for the same or similar products and services. It cannot be mere coincidence that the Respondent has selected and used a confusingly similar domain name. In all events, the Panel determines that the use of the <mlbtv.com> domain name creates a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant’s MLB and MLB.COM marks as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the website or of products and services on the website.
The Complainant has established bad faith in registration and use of the domain name.
For all the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the domain name <mlbtv.com> be transferred to the Complainant.
Dated: August 20, 2007